In January, two minors were charged in the Nome Court House with 11 counts of wanton waste of big game.
The case comes from an incident a year-and-a-half ago near Brevig Mission in which a herd of musk ox were illegally killed and not harvested. At the time of the incident the defendants were 13 and 10-years-old.
An Alaska State Trooper from the Nome post investigated after receiving a report of two dead musk ox west of Brevig Mission.
On Sept. 29, 2012 the trooper found five cows and two bulls—all dead—in the California Creek and Fish River drainages.
The investigating trooper’s written account states that two of the boys shot at the herd of musk ox with rifles over the course of multiple days, as well as chased them on four-wheelers. Two other boys had been present at different points, but not participated.
In total, 15 charges were filed, all of which are class A misdemeanors. A person convicted of unlawfully taking a musk ox is responsible for $3,000 in restitution to the state. Both the DA’s office and the Fairbanks-based firm representing one of the defendants declined to comment on the case, and it’s unclear what repercussions—monetary or punitive—the two boys are facing.
Elmer Setot Jr. lives in Brevig Mission and works with the Seward Peninsula Advisory Council and Eskimo Walrus Commission. He says the he and others were not aware of what had happened until after there was a trooper response. Setot says it’s important for youth to learn about relationships with wildlife as part of their education.
“So, there should be efforts, at least by community leaders, to talk to the younger generation about respecting wildlife as it was taught to us in past generations,” Setot said.
According to figures from the Alaska Department of Fish & Game the population estimate for musk ox in the hunt area of the Seward Peninsula is just under 2,000. Of that total, just 39 a year can be killed by permitted hunters.
A bull musk ox can yield nearly 300 pounds of meat.